Thursday, December 3, 2009

camping out... in the living room

Greetings followers of the Franke blog!

Today was a sunny, warm day in December, and I just went for a 2-mile run with Kristin. It was the first time since my knee operation that I was able to actually RUN! It felt great. I remember just after my surgery in September how I thought I'd never be able to move my left leg freely again. However, with each week, there seems to be subtle improvement, and I'm slowly progressing. In hindsight, I can more clearly see why the doctor and all other torn-ACL-friends say it's a long road to recovery, but I should have hope for a full return.

But that's not exactly what I wanted to tell you.

I really just wanted to say that Kristin and I have been sleeping in our living room since Halloween. Yep. We moved the mattress from our bedroom into the living room, and we've been camping ever since. There was no reason for it, just an adventure. However, I think we're realizing that it also means we haven't had people over to our place in over a month. It would be nice to host again and welcome back our friends' laughter to 11/G. Adventures are fun, but eventually they have to end so that you can start a new one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

thrillah in manila

that was the theme for this year's manila spirits - biggest asian tournament. i'm going to write this post in terms of wins and losses... because there were several!
*the women's final by 2 points
*a disc (but grant found it!)
*my teva sandals
*my sports bras and new shorts
*our mixed quarterfinals due to some sh***y calls by the other team. i could go into it in detail, but let's just say it was the worst spirit of the game i've ever played against!

*a lot of new friends from D-CUUP (our women's team from around China/Taiwan). here's a photo after the finals with Philippines. it's a bit small.

*more new friends on Ninja Cowboy Bear (my mixed team)
*a lot of games - 3 and 1 on Saturday for mixed, 2 and 1 on Friday for women's
*MVP for the women's tournament!! HUGE surprise actually...
*seeing tons of people from all over asia that i've met at other tournaments
*having a good dinner out with grant for his birthday
*good weather! only a tiny sprinkling of rain for a half hour

it was a FANTASTIC weekend. i've still got my fingers crossed that my clothes will come back to me. i gave up on the flip flops though :-(

Monday, November 9, 2009

thrillah in manila

this weekend was the manila spirits tournament - biggest tournament in asia, i'm fairly certain. for the first time, there was a women's and open division! 9 teams for open, 4 for womens. it was fantastic. my women's team was made up of players from beijing, taiwan, hk, and one girl from shanghai. we got to play in the finals and ended up losing by 2 :-( ah well, so it goes. my highlight moment was a stall-9, inside out flick, upwind(?) to the back of the endzone for a score. heck yeah.

mixed was on saturday and sunday, and i played with a team called "ninja cowboy bear" made up of people from all over. lots of beijing people (the captain was from there), singapore, philippines, japan, hong kong... good times. it was awesome because we did really gel together, and we worked as a team, even though we had some huge stars who could have totally dominated the game.

we made it into the quarters after winning our crossover against the beijing team. we were playing against boracay, and it was going really well (8-5) until the cap... then we just couldn't score. we only had to get to 9, and they got up to 8-8. at which point, all heck broke loose. on a bad throw from me, our player skyed his defender and came down with a disc, and a girl was also trying to get in the mix. he dumped it, there was a swing and a score. go ninjas. we started shaking hands, and the boracay captain noticed his girl on the ground yelling that she had called foul (or injury). no one heard a call, no one knew what the call was. if it was injury, it could have stayed with our guy... turns out she claimed a foul, so it had to come back to me. my mark fouled me, and then i threw it away on my 3rd try. they scored, game over.

someone was taping the game and showed it to us afterwards...
1) there was no foul: he skyed her by about 3 feet, she never left the ground and got in his way as he came down.
2) she never acknowledged any call. she played defense and then went to the ground AFTER the score.
our captain, not known for a calm temperament, took the video straight to the TD and the other captain. after debates, they agreed to talk to the girl and see if she stuck to her story. if she didn't, they'd figure out what to do next. what stunk was that she wouldn't admit to a bad call. so there was nothing we could do, and no acknowledgment of violating the spirit of the game. SUPER frustrating end to our run, especially because they got destroyed in the semis, and we would have had a chance at making the finals against the other team. i voted we put the video on youtube, myspace, friendster, facebook, etc :-)

but, overall, it was a REALLY fun weekend and great to see all the ultimate players we know from all over since basically every team was there (32 mixed teams, 6-700 players!). and now it's back to the real world until the next tournament...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

for those still following along...

i realized that neither of us have updated this blog in quite awhile... though, were you expecting grant to do it? nope, me neither. i also realized that there are still a few people out there who read this. (hi jon-e!)

grant's recovering quite nicely from surgery. he walks without a limp 90% of the time, he's been on the bike every day this week, and he's hoping to play ultimate by the end of february. this is what his physio has told him, so it's not just an obscure date that he chose. meanwhile, he's helping run our fall league and doing ridiculous write-ups after each week.

i, however, am still playing ultimate. my league team is 5-0 so far. whoo whoo! jake-e did a great job drafting almost all my favorite people. he also did a great job recruiting a new girl who's a BEAST (even though she'd never played). last weekend was the HK tournament. team Party Tram won the team costume award. yup, ninjas. and we had fire, courtesy of our resident amateur magician, jeremy. it was definitely fun to be playing a tournament again. i forgot about what a high i get from tourney weekends! good thing manila is next weekend...
professionally, jobs are good. grant's u-14 soccer team is doing well, and he survived planning camp. now he just has week without walls in a few weeks. he's doing a "boys to men" week. manly things like war games, go karts, hiking and camping, the works.
youth group has been going alright. lots of crazy boys in the 11-12 age range... it's a good time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

grant's surgery

we spent monday and most of tuesday hanging out at the Matilda Hospital in hong kong. this hospital is most commonly known as where the wealthy have their babies :-) however, we were not having a baby... grant was having surgery on his knee having his acl replaced and meniscus trimmed.

i had a request for all the funny things that happened or that grant said, and i thought i should post them.
*not only do they give you an open back robe to wear, you also get "special underwear." these fashion statements are best described as one-size-fits-all mesh adult diapers. i'm not sure why you can't wear regular underwear.
*at this particular hospital, patients also got warm, fluffy robes to stay modest.
*quotes from grant, post-op, that he has no recollection of
-"am i still in surgery?" (about 10 minutes after being in the ward, after the recovery room)
-"cutler is a huge waste of money. what a jerk!" (after being told about the bears game and cutler's interceptions.)
-"you don't want to see all of this. kristin gets excited about it, but you don't want to see it." (to the physio girl when she came to teach him to use his crutches)
*the physio then asked me "is he always like this?" to which, i said "yes..." and she replied "oh, i thought he was on morphine."

the craziest thing that happened was a typhoon came through while grant was in the hospital (on the PEAK!), and the winds went nuts. it went up to a T8 in the evening, so I opted out of heading all the way home across the harbor (traffic and transportation were going to be CRAZY) and called our favorite hong kong family, mike and sheri. they laughed at me, because they'd just been talking about if i would need a place to stay. there was still a t8 in the morning (which meant no taxis), so i stayed around, watched nfl, and ate waffles. it was a GREAT morning, even if I did feel guilty for ditching grant!!

now he's at home, resting, icing his knee, and hobbling around. his most recent facebook status post: "immobility challenge #1: going to the bathroom"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

an awesome date followed by unpleasant consequences

last night, grant planned our weekly "date night." there's a pretty fancy restaurant right under us (or just about) that we regularly walk past called O'Carol's. on mondays and wednesdays, they're having a "ladies eat free" special (if you come with a gentleman). the set menu is an affordable price, and you're only paying for one person. so, we had an appetizer of foie de gras (sounds better than goose liver) and salmon, a seafood and mushroom cappucino, and a main course, followed by coffee. lovely, really. we went home for our own dessert (fruit and nutella!), watched the office, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
until it was bedtime.
then both of our stomachs felt terrible: borderline pukey feeling. you know the one. i'm not sure either of us slept soundly last night.

a great date night gone sour.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

in the groove

grant started school today, and i'm gearing up towards the start of the school year and the youth group calendar. i've got quite a bit to get done, but i'm at a bit of an impasse... wanting to get students' opinions on activities, waiting for dates to be confirmed for events, etc. we're also hiring an intern this year which should be exciting - and nervewracking! sometimes, i barely know what i'm doing, and now i'll have to help someone else do stuff too! i'm really glad to have an extra head to bounce ideas off. that might be the biggest asset to me personally, though she'll be helping with other (much-needed) areas in the church.

singapore open was last weekend. it was hot, tiring, and lots of ultimate (imagine that!). we had an awesome group of women, including 3 students from the US, a solid, if short, group of men, including a notre dame pickup. we went in seeded pretty low, and finished there (16th) which is really unfortunate. we lost a lot of games we shouldn't have, and that's always frustrating. overall, i think i played pretty well considering i haven't seriously played since june. i even got to be a cutter since we had solid guy handlers and the women had better mismatches in the downfield. that took some getting used to, but it was fun, and i played pretty well in most of our games. my fitness level was definitely lower than usual, so that's high on my priority list to work on. in our last game which was a bit less serious, i put up some decent long passes and ok pulls - gotta work on those for the women's team. grant played well too. he was on the d-line a lot, and they played a lot of zone, which is his LEAST favorite thing, but he still played really well...especially given our recent absence from disc. in quarters though, he went up for a d over a girl in the endzone and came down really wrong and hurt his knee. he's going in to the doctor today, and we'll see what happens. the good thing: she dropped the disc. the ridiculous thing... after laying on the field for a good 3 minutes trying to move over to the shade, eventually getting some ice and moving to our sideline, one of the other players came out with a cramp or some small injury. the captain says, "grant, go in!!" grant replied with, "are you RETARDED?!" i've gotta say, this kind of move defined much of our weekend.

anyways, beach ultimate continues which is lowkey and fun for awhile longer. i'm ready for that - fitness, throws, but non competitive. league will start soon enough, and then the hk tourney will roll around. decisions to be made.

we're past the jetlag which is a good feeling, our house is almost cleaned up from arriving and traveling, but we have no food in our fridge. must work on that!

we're totally open to any and all visitors! come see us in asia :-D

Monday, August 3, 2009

welcome home

we landed in hong kong yesterday where it was 95 degrees out, and the haze was incredible. we made it safely to our flat where we discovered that the air conditioner in our main room isn't working. luckily our landlady is on top of this for once and is sending someone today. it's bordering on emergency.
i woke up at 2 last night, lay in bed til 3, gave up til 4, and slept til 7. so far, i'm doing ok, but it's only 9:30 AM.
the smells of hong kong are making my stomach churn while i'm jetlagged. i forgot about that sensation.

but, we're mostly unpacked and glad to be back... now back to work

Sunday, June 28, 2009

back in the us of a

grant and i made it safely back to the us. for grant, it's basically been two years since he's been in the us. i was back last fall for a week.
we flew business class. yay for upgrades!! we had enough miles to upgrade one direction, and it was freaking AWESOME. if i can figure out how to do that every time i fly long distances, i will.
the first thing i noticed about the midwest: the flatness. coming in over wisconsin, illinois, chicago suburbs, everything was flat. none of the buildings rose above the treelines, adding to the flat effect. none of the interesting skylines of hong kong (mountains, buildings, etc) for sure!
the second thing i've noticed is size. the largeness of everything! cars, grocery stores, roads, high schools, department stores...
it's crazy seeing how big my brothers and sisters have gotten! erik is just about the same size as chris, and his voice is about as low. rachel is apparently in the midst of a huge growth spurt. mikey wants to be called "mike," and katie is more of a little girl than a toddler.
oh how time goes on!

i did realize that there is basically NO ONE in elkhart that i know anymore, except my friends' parents (who i wouldn't exactly call up as friends!). apparently we all got out...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

summer's arriving

grant's on holiday. it makes me want to be lazy in the mornings.
we went to shanghai over the weekend for a tournament. BEAUTIFUL fields - soft grass to walk barefoot through, to lay out on... and gave me a rash. everywhere the grass touched me, i broke out. dang my allergic body. i'd like to believe it was some sort of pesticide, and not just my general allergies to nature.
the only thing off-setting the great venue was the polluted air. i'm so glad i live in hong kong and not in mainland china. we sometimes have blue skies. there, a clear day means you see an outline of a sun amidst a whole lot of haze.

we go back to the states next week. i'm ready to be away from the heat and humidity. it's a beast this week. we're going to be incredibly out of shape for singapore: de-climatized, jetlagged, and no disc playing for months before. love it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

just a random post

i realized that, once again, it has been ages since i've updated our blog. whether or not there's actually anything to write about has yet to be seen.

summer has arrived in hong kong. this past week has been consistently hitting 30 degrees (celsius) which is basically high 80's/ humidity. i have to admit, i'm quite excited to visit the States if for nothing else than for the nice weather! i've also realized how well my body has acclimatized as i wore jeans most of the week. scary. when you see me this summer, and i'm complaining about how cold i am while you're in a tank top and shorts... just laugh at me, and have pity on my sub-tropical body.

grant and i went on a hike the other day, and the beauty of this particular hike is that it finishes at a beach. there's no better way to finish a hike than with swimming! in my opinion, all hikes in hong kong should finish with a beach.

as mentioned before, david loomis visited us for a few days back in april. i have to say, it was really fun to see someone from a "former life," if you will. my life has become quite segmented into "high school," "college," "zionsville," and now "hong kong." as there's very little overlap of these lives, when someone crosses over it's a strange experience. probably the epitome of this was sitting on the walk of stars in tst, looking at the skyline of hong kong, and laughing at stories from high school. it's been a long time since i've remembered all that and seeing david brought it all right back as if it were just a year ago...and not 10!! (yeah, get that: 10 years ago, i was finishing my freshman year. i feel old).

for those of you who want to see us this summer, here's our approximate itinerary:
*Grant in Rockford, June 23-July 10
*Both of us in Chicago: July 10
*Door County, WI: July 12-18
*Michigania: July 18-25
*Indianapolis: July 25-28
*Elkhart: July 28-July 31
Fly away to Hong Kong: August 1

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

sweet, sweet victory

i don't often post about our ultimate league, and today is a great day to do so :-) i've had nowhere to brag as much as i've wanted to.

last season, my blue team took on the name "smurfs," simply because i couldn't come up with anything better with blue. we finished on top of the regular season standings over black, 5-5-2 vs 5-5-1 or something ridiculous like that. anyways, we lost in the finals with a lot of our players being gone.

this season, my blue team was allowed to stick together if they wanted to, and we had 11 players stay with the smurfs, and picked up a few more great people (ie, grant) which made for some fun comraderie and also teamwork. all season, we've been regularly winning against the red and white teams, but never against black. the black teams relies solely on a non-traditional zone defense that exploits weaker players. the last time we played them, we came within 2 points... sooooo close!

last night, we finally did what we've needed to all season: eliminated our own drops and errors and played with solid teamwork. one of the newer players commented to me, "i keep cutting but i'm never open! should i stop?" we told her, "NO! keep going, because you're letting other people get open!" sure enough, she kept running her butt off without touching the disc, but keeping defenders occupied. anyways, we beat our nemesis black by about 6 points because every person on our team played to the top of their abilities.

not gonna lie, it felt REALLY good...
and, for some personal bragging, because i can:
grant played like a man on fire, and like someone who's been playing a lot longer than just under 2 years. he was cool, confident, and quick as a handler. i'm in love... ;-)
i put up 3 huge throws (against wind too!), 2 of which were caught by my receivers. (the other one was a bad throw). and, i got to run deep for a goal. that RARELY happens, and i still can't believe my legs moved as fast as they did.

oh and david loomis, who's visiting this week in the midst of his travels, played with us and scored 2 points for us. pretty sweet.

i love the smurfs.

Monday, March 30, 2009

boracay open 2009

last weekend (21-22/3), we went to boracay (see the other posts about that glorious place) for a frisbee tournament. it was a short trip: we arrived saturday morning early and left midday monday, but 100% worth it. frisbee tournaments are always fun, added to the beauty of boracay, we couldn't go wrong.

there were 6 of us from hong kong, and then we picked up 3 peace corps volunteers stationed in the philippines, including laura van't land from valpo. they'd seeded our team 9th, which made us the top of the b bracket. it meant we got to win a lot :-) overall on the weekend, we were 6-1, but that only made us the b bracket champs since we didn't play the top teams (who would have DESTROYED us).

amazing time, and then grant left last week for kota kinabalu for a teacher conference (he can post on that if he gets to it!!)

here's a photo of the hong kong musclemen (and woman)
(l-r) mike, rob, jeremy, grant, kristin, sandy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

11 march 2009

it was a very good day.
i slept in an extra half hour, for no reason at all.
grant bought me about 12 new books to start reading and left them all over the floor for me to see when i woke up.
i talked to kari, erik, mom and michelle.
i went to work and accomplished a little bit, but spent time reading the facebook messages that kept popping up at me.
but spent 2 hours at lunch with pastor marybeth and sheri.
then we had tea with the rest of staff and olin, complete with homemade carrot cake. mmmmm
i hung out with natalie and sharon and played guitar hero... oh, and did some mentoring lessons.
then we went out to dinner in soho with lots and lots of friends. we ate lots of tasty lebanese tapas and smoked a hookah.
janice gave me the funniest book present ever- veggietales birthday!
came home and fell into bed happy and blessed.
oh, and facebook left me a birthday message.

thanks everyone for your love, near and far.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

30-hour famine (union church version)

see if this link works:
or this one:

these are my awesome kiddos doing the 30-hour famine this year, photos compliment of garland, my awesome volunteer. (there are more hiding somewhere).
we had 20 kids participate for church, and i'm guessing they raised over $80,000 HKD to be donated to World Vision. incredible. they were great sports, in good moods, and willing to do everything!
we had a local ministry group come and lead a simulation exercise called "monsoon" which simulated being rural farmers dependent on the monsoon for our livelihood. my family had one member die :-(
we also made blankets for another local ministry. wrangling middle school boys to be interested in something like that is NOT easy.
played lots of games, and spent quiet times learning from Scripture.
i still think my favorite prayer of the weekend was "dear God, thank you for giving us all different abilities...and disabilities."
some quotes from the evaluations on what they learned:
"god loves everyone equally, no matter how clever, smart, rich, or poor they are. it isn't god's fault [that there's poverty] - we can't blame him for something we don't help."
"there is no way to give too much"
"He (God) is worried about everything but it is us that have to help."
"it is hard being hungry. but i have faith in god and he gave me strength."
"that when you really concentrated on God, nothing else seems to matter. when i felt hungry, i thought about God and forgot about being hungry."

oh, and all these kids were junior high age. pretty amazing to hear how God was working on their hearts.

grant did a 30-hour famine with his students this month too, but i'll let him give details if he wants ;-) i don't know what highlights he saw from his students.
also, for those of you who heard grant was having knee problems: he got his MRI done last Saturday, and he has NOT torn his ACL, PCL or anything else. he did tear a tendon that rehealed itself, and he does have inflammation, but no surgery needed. yay!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

the mundane

i've had a realization lately that nearly all of our posts revolve around somewhere we've recently travelled. i can't deny that we've been incredibly blessed financially since we moved to hk. both of us have steady salaries, and very few expenses or debts (darn school loans!). we end up travelling a lot, and then we post about our travels, because those seem like the most interesting parts of our lives.

and recently, i've become really sensitive to the fact of how unusual this is - we travel about once a month, and we love it. but the truth is that most of you who read this blog are living in the states where unemployment is rising, recession is really hitting hard, and finances aren't as loose as ours are right now.

it makes me wonder if we're insensitive for posting frequently about all these great places?
in truth, this blog started as a way to keep our family and friends updated about our lives as we started off life in hong kong, a new culture, another continent, another way of life. now we've been here for approaching two years (1 year, 7 months), and the novelty and shock has worn off.

since the novelty has worn off, writing about daily life feels less interesting to us. ferries, taxis, subways, double decker buses are ways of transport and life for us. seeing skyscrapers is expected. an 11th floor, 558 square foot apartment is home. we go to work, we play frisbee, we hang out with friends, we sleep, we eat. life in hong kong settles into a routine, and, in many ways, is not so different from a life we'd live in the US.

for instance, i went to outback for lunch with our friend anna who lives and works in china. she was visiting hong kong to get her visa renewed.
outback, lunch with a university friend who's passing through, catching up on life stories. all normal occurences in our lives.
visa runs, maybe different.
at this point, i think we focus on our travels in our blogging because they are the new, the novel, the exciting, the interesting spices in our lives.

in short, i apologize if writing about travels seems insensitive in these economic times. i apologize if you've wanted to hear more about our daily lives. if you let us know that, we can try to work harder at sharing those events.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

chinese new year 2009

it's the year of the ox... my year baby!

to celebrate, grant and i left gray, smoggy, chilled hong kong for boracay island. here's the island from the plane. we were hanging out in the narrow strip in the middle, but on the farther side from this angle. google boracay, and i believe it's one of the best beaches in the world.

to get there, we flew to manila, then caticlan, then took a boat across the channel to the island...

so i forgot to rotate the picture before uploading... oops! here's one of the really good sunsets.

while we were there, we got to hang out with laura van't land, who's in the peace corps near-ish to boracay. go valpo!!

we also did a lot of skimboarding (so fun!!), sleeping in, laying on the beach, reading books, cribbage, drinking fruit shakes, and eating big dinners. what a life. back to the grind now!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

on a more entertaining note

on a less weighty note from my last post of recommendations...

grant and i are currently addicted to 30 rock, the tina fey sitcom that's won massive numbers of awards. we bought seasons 1 and 2 in shenzhen last time we were there, and it has been my favorite evening activity for a week now. we've finished season 1 and part of season 2. absolutely hysterical.

my favorite part of our set of discs is that each disc starts with the FBI anti-piracy warning.
ironic really, if you notice where we bought them...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

new books

at the national youth workers' conference in pittsburgh last fall, i was able to hear a lot of great pastors, writers, theologians, etc teach in seminars and in general sessions.  two who stuck with me were margaret feinberg and phyllis tickle.

at the conference, i bought one of margaret feinberg's books: the organic god.  loved it.  if i had to pick an author that i'd love to sit down and have coffee with, she might be the one.  her basic question is "Why do you love jesus?"  now think about that for a few seconds...
it's much harder than you anticipate.  i can think of all the proofs, 
examples, reasons that god (and therefore jesus) love me, and i can think
 of reasons why i worship him... but love him?  that opens up an entirely different picture of jesus all of the sudden.  what i liked about this book was it took you back to some of the basic characteristics of god and who he is.  check it out... i'm hopefully going to start reading another book by her soon.  (sacred echoes)

next interesting book i just finished: the great emergence by phyllis tickle.  
this one is probably a bit more polarizing than my other choice.  her premise is that we are in the middle of a semi-millenial "rummage sale" by the church.  when it's over, we'll have a new expression of the church as we know it, as well as a re-formed and re-traditioned version of the church that 
we previously knew (in this case, protestantism and roman catholicism).  i appreciated how she looked at seemingly unrelated cultural phenomena and pointed out how they have changed the church over the past century.  from inventions such as the automobile, to philosophies ab
out life and the soul: all of them have (in some way) affected christianity.  the other thing i appreciated was that she didn't make a judgment about whether or not this "emergence" is wrong or right in culture or in the church.  simply that it is, and as a church we will have to learn how to understand what it will be and how it will affect christianity as we know it.  
am i an "emergent" or an "emerging christian?"  (because these apparently have different meanings, though i'm still unclear on the difference).  maybe?  probably?  i'm not exactly sure, though i do feel that my theology and my practice of religion tend to be a blend of denominations and practices.  do i believe in the authority of scripture?  
yes.  do i believe that faith alone saves?  yes.  but do i also believe that we need to be the living embodiment of jesus's teachings?  yes... and if that puts me in the category of "social justice" christians, then so be it.  do i have liturgical leanings?  at times, yes.  based on my very limited understanding of this "emergence," i probably fit, as i can't clearly be categorized in one "quadrant" of the north american christian map.  (see the image, taken from her book).

anyone else have any thoughts on books for me to read? :-D

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

my monthly ramblings

Good grief, my ability to upload blog entries in a timely fashion is terrible.

Christmas this year was lovely. Lots of time at church and with friends. As much as a downer as it is to be "working" on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and I don't even have to preach!), it really is a blessing in disguise. In this strange city of warm weather, commercial focus without cultural/spiritual significance, and leaving for vacations, church services that I'm "required" to attend become a centering experience. From a family service with "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," to an all candlelight evening service, and then back again in the morning for a celebration of Christmas Day, I felt like I was able to really live and experience the Christmas story in many forms.

Grant loved his iphone. I'm such a nice wife ;-)

We left for Vietnam on Christmas night with some friends. There was a hat tournament in Ho Chi Minh City that we went to last year also. Lots of fun, sunshine, and ultimate :-D Grant's team won, and my team did alright :-P Following the tournament, we went to Mui Ne, a beach town nearby. VERY relaxing, and there were about 12 frisbee people there (more or less, depending on the day) who we hung out with.
It was a good holiday indeed.

I've had an interesting month of learning, discussing and thinking about church, ministry, theology, etc. It's been fun, challenging and overall good times. It's also helped me learn to be gracious with people who have differences from me. Difficult lesson, really, but super important. Some days I wish that I could do that all the time - read, think, discuss. I know, I'm an eternal scholar at heart.
I'm really excited for our upcoming "Faith Discovery Course." It's a chance for our students to meet with a mentor and prepare for baptism or confirmation. So far we have 8 students doing it! Keep them in your prayers :-)
As opposed to Grant's last blog entry about the "cold" warning, it actually has gotten cooler lately. This morning, temperatures were in the 40's across Hong Kong, and there was a frost warning even! I know that most of you in the States think I'm a wuss, but I am eternally grateful for space heaters in my flat and my office!
I've been dreaming and thinking a bit lately about the future, in several ways - leisure time and professional time! Various ideas and thoughts I've had (most have been briefly discussed with Grant!)
*doing a summer around Europe next year by rail (unpaid leave maybe?)
*planning a huge excursion the summer we decide to leave (no idea when)
*perhaps going to school for a teaching license - it makes Grant more marketable, and gives me a "practical" skill if I decide to change professions
*being more diligent about writing - journaling, blogging, etc (probably more in the journal than the blog)
*ditto on the reading
*what is my life calling? I'm not convinced that it's youth ministry forever, though I'm not questioning the call God has on my life at this moment. Part of me really wants to know what might be next! I suppose it's better that I don't know, so I can't get over excited looking forward and forgetting where I am.